What are the uses of pumice stones? A lightweight igneous rock that forms as a result of volcanic magma and gases combining and solidifying, pumice stone is made of high concentrations of silica. Usually light in color and in weight, pumice rock is filled with air pockets, making it very porous. Due to its high porosity, pumice stones can often float until they absorb enough moisture to become waterlogged. Abrasive when it is ground up, pumice is used in a wide variety of cleaning applications. Due to its light weight, it is also useful in many architectural, landscaping, horticultural and construction projects. Pumice also has many uses in personal care products. From concrete blocks to exfoliating face scrubs, pumice is used for hundreds of unique applications.
Pumice in Construction and Landscaping
Since pumice stone is made of solidified magma with large pores from trapped gases, it is a very lightweight material that is useful in a variety of construction and landscaping applications. Large pieces of pumice are broken into smaller chunks and used as an aggregate material in the production of concrete and concrete blocks. This makes the concrete blocks lighter than those constructed of other materials, and the porosity of the pumice also adds insulating value to the concrete and concrete blocks.
In the United States, the largest use of pumice is in concrete blocks and other concrete products. Estimated production of pumice in the United States in 2019 was over 500,000 tons, and most of that went into concrete mixtures. However, there are many other uses of the lightweight igneous rock, including in landscape and horticultural applications.
Pumice is used as a substrate, or growing medium, in hydroponic gardening. The stone is also used as a ground cover in landscaping and decorative planters. In horticulture, pumice is used to improve drainage and condition the soil.
Other Uses of Pumice
Due to the way that pumice forms during volcanic eruptions, the atoms that the stone is composed of are not arranged in a crystalline pattern. This irregular structure gives pumice stone sharp edges, which makes it useful as an abrasive material.
When broken into smaller pieces, pumice stones are ideal scouring agents. They can be used to clean soap scum from porcelain bathtubs, remove mineral deposits from toilets, and they are also useful for removing grime from grill grates and the insides of ovens.
The abrasive qualities of pumice also make the stone ideal for treating stone-washed denim, and pumice is also used as an abrasive in pencil erasers.
Due to the porous nature of pumice, it is also used as an absorbent in cat litters. The gritty texture of ground pumice is useful as a traction enhancer in rubber used for tires, and pumice can also be used to provide traction on slippery roads.
Personal Care Products Containing Pumice
Pumice uses are extremely diverse. From construction applications to personal care products, pumice is useful in a wide variety of industries.
While most pumice is used in construction and landscaping, there are many products in the personal care aisle of the grocery store that contain this unique igneous rock. Small pumice stones can be used as nail files, and pumice stones are also used to remove dry and callused skin from feet, hands, knees and elbows. Pumice stones can also be used to remove fine body hairs.
When ground into a fine powder, pumice is used as an ingredient in heavy-duty hand-cleaning soaps like Lava and GOJO. Pumice is used as an exfoliating agent in face and body scrubs. Pumice stones are also useful for de-pilling sweaters and removing pet hair from furniture and carpets.
About the Author
Meg Schader is a freelance writer and copyeditor. She holds a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from Cornell University and a Master of Professional Studies in environmental studies from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Along with freelancing, she also runs a small farm with her family in Central New York.